A welcome respite from the festivities at Christmas came in the form of a trip to Dovey Valley Shooting Ground near Machnylleth in Central Wales. A decent three and a half hour trek from Manchester meant that five of us (Brett Davies, Ian Grant, Mark Haley, Dave Walker and myself) had booked ourselves in for the day to make the most of the trip across there. Unfortunately the weather that morning was persistently wet and we drove through hours of drizzle to arrive at an equally drenched Dovey Valley.
The clubhouse had the log burner all fired up so we made the most of the opportunity to warm up and make some new friends:
The rain looked set to stay for the duration of the morning so we all readied ourselves to cope with the liquid sunshine
The best prepared of all of us however was Glyn Jones our guide for the day, who clearly had been faced with such adverse conditions on a regular basis:
Dovey Valley is one of those facilities where once you have booked yourselves in, you are permitted to go a little off piste in that if you want to stand further back from a stand, to the left of it or the right of it, you can. In fact anything deemed safe by your experienced guide is a goer. They purposefully limit the number of shooters on the ground at any one time to allow this. We used this to our advantage turning even the most straightforward of stands into the most challenging that we could muster and often had us shooting at good 60-70 yard targets that were killable on a repeatable basis with the correct technique.
The ground itself has an abundance of stands; close to 100 all told so the possibilities for practice are immense! We started off with a little light “extreme” skeet standing a good 10-15 yards behind the traditional stands and shooting a mixture of high and low tower targets. With five of us shooting, Glyn had a master card for each of us and it was a simple as shooting whatever amount of targets you wanted to on each stand we visited and Glyn would mark your card accordingly, allowing each shooter to personalise their session accordingly.
The targets on offer were varied and couple with the backgrounds provided a shooting experience on a par with shooting at Hodnet. The picture below shows one of our off-piste excursions with Brett shooting the DTL range from an additional 30 yards back and 15 yards up a bank:
The final stand that we shot was the high tower; standing below its flight path to shoot it as a true driven target. This concluded our mornings shooting on the stands below the clubhouse, we retired to the warmth of the log-burner much to Marks delight:
With our packed lunches devoured, we restocked our cartridge bags and headed back out with Glyn, this time heading up into the woods to start the afternoon off on the rabbit stand. The rabbit runs across a cut-out in the bank and you start off shooting it at 35 yards:
Having all completed that challenge we then moved back a further ten yards to shoot it from the path as this slow motion video of Ian Grant shows:
The final challenge was to back up to the further point, 51 yards away from the kill point, again yielding its fair share of broken clays once those shooting had become accustomed to the slight tweak to their approach to the target:
Other highlights from the day included a very fast left to right downhill target presentation which made the blaze clay very difficult to pick out as both the picture and the video below show:
I’m unsure exactly how long Dovey Valley has been in operation but many shooters that I have spoken to in the past about it have fond memories of shooting there in decades past. This “set-up” is testament to the way that things used to be done and despite it’s lack of respembelling anything modern, still functioned perfectly:
It was also neat to see an abundance of manual traps still present and many still in use when required:
Moving up the hill saw us shoot a testing quartering away target over our left shoulders and a good mid-range left to right blaze looper:
One of my favourite targets is a big crosser off a tower that we start shooting at 30-35 yards and continue back down a track stopping every 15 yards or so until we’re just past 70 yards away. The delay between pulling the trigger and seeing a piece of the clay come off feels like an eternity but shooting it at that distance is extremely satisfying. Onwards towards the lower half of teh woods and you can shoot a good teal target that appears in a clearing about 40 yards away/
The video below shows Brett shooting a report pair, captured in slow motion:
The next stand is situated beside a bubbling brook:
This stand featured a fast clay that appeared briefly in a clearing directly above the shooter, albeit for a second or two. The clay could be seen through the trees on the right prior to it making it to the clearing, so as long as you set your hold point sensibly you could get a clear view of the clay and anticipate its arrival making it far more shootable.
As the light was beginning to fade, we returned to the bottom of the ground to shoot the high tower, this time as a crosser. Once again we started with the clay very shootable, directly above us and crossing at a moderate pace. Once mastered the goal posts were moved and we backed up a further 15 yards to force us to adapt to the “new” presentation.This process was repeated three times before the sun finally crept behind the hills to render the light too dim for us to be able to continue.
Despite the weather, the whole day was thoroughly enjoyable. Glyn was a great guide and companion for the day and the rest of the staff could not have been more helpful or welcoming. Cost wise it was very affordable; having shot 170 clays throughout the day the bill was less than £50! Dovey Valley faciltated a very fitting end to a great year and I could not have shared it with better company.